Lesson Learned

It’s a lesson you never forget once you’ve learned it.

It’s lesson you never learn unless you have to.

The destruction of property-even every single thing you own on this earth-is awful, frightening and life-changing. 

But it’s still LIFE.

My parents were caught in the fury that was Hurricane Michael.  They were miles inland, a community that had never seen anything like this in four generations that had lived in the house where they rode out the storm.

Their property and home took a hit, but they are OK.

mama and papa at james wedding filter

And for this mama with one son in heaven and one deployed half-way around the world, that’s ALL THAT MATTERS.

We can rebuild a house.  We can buy more stuff.  

But I can’t replace the people I love.  

Life and Death.

I know that lesson well.

where theres life theres hope

One Day at a Time

A friend who is now battling a new challenge in addition to child loss posted this on her Facebook timeline:

You’re not going to master the rest of your life in one day.  Just relax. 

Master the day. 

Then just keep doing that every day.

I LOVE it!  And it reminded me of this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson that has been on my refrigerator for years:  

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

Truth is, no matter how much we may TRY to live life in weeks or months or years, we really are only able to live it one day at a time.

And as Jesus said over 2000 years ago:  “Don’t worry at all then about tomorrow. Tomorrow can take care of itself! One day’s trouble is enough for one day.” (Matthew 6:34)

If I never knew it before, I know it now. 

I am good for a single 24 hour period-one revolution of the earth. 

That’s it.  

Sure I put stuff on my calendar.  I have to.  But I never take it for granted.  I never assume that what I think is going to happen next week really will happen next week.

I know better.  

And I’ve also learned there is absolutely NO use in worrying about what MIGHT happen.  Because worrying does not rob tomorrow of its problems, it only robs today of its joys.  

corrie-ten-boom-empties-today-of-strength

So I work each day to do THAT day.  I make it the most productive, most love-filled and life-giving day I can.  

I go to bed satisfied that I’ve done my best.  

Get up the next sunrise and do it again. 

One day at a time.

not going to master your life in one day

[Dis]couraged

We talk a lot about encouragement and we should.

Because coming alongside and speaking courage to a heart that wants to give up and give in is one of the most beautiful things in the world.

It’s a big part of why I write-my daily prayer is that the words I send into space land just where God wants them to and that somewhere, somehow a heart is made stronger.

But life is full of discouragement.  

Sometimes it’s a phone call that brings news of a “no” when you were longing for “yes”.

Sometimes it’s finding out that there is more month than money.

Sometimes it’s a friend that doesn’t remember your birthday or anniversary or some other important date and you’re left with no one to celebrate that milestone.

Sometimes it’s the scale registering PLUS two pounds when you’ve been so, so careful to eat well and exercise all week long.

And sometimes it’s more serious than that-a diagnosis, a pink slip (do they do that anymore?), an argument with your child or spouse or parent.  

One of the things I’m learning in this Valley is that I am not immune to the myriad afflictions of life on Planet Earth.  I don’t get a pass just because I buried a child.  I have to trudge through the muck and mire of the everyday just like anyone else.

CryingWoman

And while my heart is much better at sorting the truly important from the barely mentionable, there are still many, many days when I feel sad and discouraged and it has nothing to do with Dominic’s not being here.  

This week I’ve battled increased and uncontrollable pain due to my RA.  I don’t know any other way to describe it except to say that if it keeps me from going outside and doing things, it’s at least an 8/10 on that stupid scale they use at the doctor’s office.

Some routine blood work showed a couple areas we need to watch.  Yippee!  More doctors’ appointments and more needle sticks.

I’m resigned to the fact that I cannot change any of this.  I’m not morose or without hope, but I will admit my heart is faltering just a bit.  

I preach truth to myself.  I know that in the end all will be made new and right and I won’t even care about the measly 70 or 80 years I spent down here.

think of eternity and live backwards from that

But sometimes I’m just plain tired. 

I’m tired of fighting against the barrage of everyday joy suckers.  

I confess.  I’m discouraged.  ❤

eeyore plain

 

 

Life Happens

I confess. 

When I used to drive by an unkempt yard, a run down house or ran into an untidy person, I would think, “Goodness!  Don’t they care about their yard, home or appearance?  They need to do better!  I would NEVER let my (fill in the blank) look like that.”

I don’t do that anymore.  

Because I’ve learned that there are all kinds of reasons a body may not be busy mowing a lawn,  painting a porch or even putting on matching socks.

Life happens.  

And when it does, it demands all my energy, effort and attention.  I don’t have the time or luxury of worrying about things that aren’t absolutely necessary for survival.

When Dominic left for Heaven, my priorities were immediately shaken out, sifted and re-ordered.  Not only the big ones-like spending more time with the people I loved-but also the smaller ones-like whether or not I swept the front porch before someone visited. 

More than four years later and I look around sometimes wishing I was better at keeping up with things, better able to tidy up,  decorate for the seasons, mend the fences, stay on top of clutter, or put together decent outfits.

But then I pause, breathe and realize that while the outside looks messy and unorganized and not at all like I’d prefer, my inside is focused on the things that really matter.

I am spending most of my time caring (one way or another) for other hearts. 

Now when I see someone’s home that needs attention or someone who isn’t put together,  I think, “What battle are they facing?  What life circumstance has swallowed up their time, energy,  and emotional reserves?” 

Because life happens. 

Whether we are ready for it or not. 

everyone is fighting a battle

 

It’s The Little Things

I am oh, so grateful for every single thing someone does to encourage my heart.  

And I try hard to pass it on.

Because, really, when you think about it, it’s the little things that either wear us down or build us up.

says something small but fits into the empty space in your heart

 

The daily drip of encouragement or criticism is what shapes our hearts most. 

The hardest stone can be worn away by water over time.  And the softest earth can be packed firm and resist any new seed when trod upon and squeezed dry by drought.

Words are not neutral.  They either build up or tear down.  

And so many hearts are holding onto hope by the thinnest thread.  

I want to be the person that helps build it into a lifeline, not the one who snaps it in two.  

all you have to do is care coffee cups

 

A Trail of Love Crumbs

I used to read- a LOT.

By that I mean I often had five or six books going at a time and typically finished four in a week.

Since Dominic ran ahead to heaven I find I rarely have the attention span for books anymore.

But every now and then I find a book that can hold my attention and I read like I used to-carrying it with me from the kitchen (where I read as I wait for cookies to come out of the oven) to the bathtub (where I read as I soak my achy joints).

EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON (and other lies I love to believe) by Kate Bowler is one of those books.

everything happens for a reason book

I heard an interview of Kate on an NPR program while driving.  She had me in tears and rolling in laughter all at the same time.

And this bargain loving, never-pay-full-price mama came straight into the house and ordered the hardback book off Amazon.

It lived up to every expectation.  I felt like I was sitting across from someone who truly “gets it”.

The author is not a bereaved parent but is living with Stage IV metastatic colon cancer.  Her life is, as she describes it, “Stuck in present tense.

So, so many nuggets of wisdom and truth hidden in these pages.

But the one that resonated with my heart the most is this:

My little plans [thoughtful gifts, words and actions] are crumbs scattered on the ground.  This is all I have learned about living here, plodding along, and finding God.  My well-laid plans are no longer my foundation.  I can only hope that my dreams, my actions, my hopes are leaving a trail for Zach [my son] and Toban [my husband], so, whichever way the path turns, all they will find is Love.

When I read it, I nearly shouted aloud, “THAT’S IT!!!”

Her heart sings the same song as mine.

Very few of us will do great things, remembered in history books or blazoned across the front of granite edifices.

Most of us will only do small things.

But we can do them with great love.

not all of us can do great things typewriter

Dominic left this earth before he even had a chance to do great things.  Twenty-three years taken up by growing to adulthood and going to college and then law school left little time for solving the world’s big problems.

But he left a trail of love crumbs.

One that can be followed from his heart to dozens of others.

IMG_1816

That’s what I want my legacy to be:  A trail of love crumbs. 

I want tiny bits of me scattered far and wide-a wild and winding path made by relentlessly giving away all I am and all I have.

My name won’t be engraved anywhere but on my tombstone.  

But I pray my love is engraved on many hearts.  

the answer is still and again love

 

 

Love in Action: Some Things Hurt

Bereavement has not made me a perfectly compassionate person.  I still say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing and sometimes don’t do the right thing.

But it HAS made me more aware that what I do/don’t do/say/don’t say can either speak life or death to a struggling heart.

And I so want to speak life and courage to everyone I meet.

Before I lost Dominic, I know that I, like others who had never experienced the death of a child, undoubtedly said and did things that were hurtful instead of helpful.

I painfully remember sharing at a Thanksgiving women’s gathering and, meaning to encourage the ladies, said something like, “I think we are able to better face the big disappointments or trials in life, but find the daily drip, drip, drip of unfulfilled expectations to be a greater challenge.”  A bereaved mom in attendance set me straight (in a very kind and gracious manner!).

That exchange has come often to my mind in these months after burying my son. I wish I could go back and have a do-over.

Read the rest here:  Loving Well: Some Things Hurt